Nokta magazine, which was shuttered in April 2016, had published an article titled, “Semih: The Tayyip-like figure on Survivor Island.” The participant of the TV show in question, Semih Öztürk, filed a complaint with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against Perihan Mağden, and the news website T24, which had republished the Nokta story. An investigation was launched based on Öztürk’s complaint, which alleged that Perihan Mağden insulted him and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
In the course of investigating the complaint, the prosecutor’s office invited Perihan Mağden to give a statement. Mağden indicated in her statement at the prosecutor’s office that she had criticized Semih Öztürk, a competitor in the television show “Survivor Island,”” for his unusual behavior, and had pointed to some similarities between Öztürk and the President. She stated that the article was not about the President, and that there was no complaint filed by his lawyers. She cited jurisprudence by the European Court of Human Rights underlining that criticism can sometimes be severe, shocking and offensive.
T24’s editor-in-chief İnan Ketenciler also gave a statement as part of the investigation, indicating that the article was not penned by T24, and that they had only republished it from Nokta magazine. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in question.
The prosecutor indicated in the indictment that during the investigation he could not access the original article in question, since Nokta magazine was shut down by a decree issued during the state of emergency, and its website was no longer accessible.
In the indictment drafted by Public Prosecutor Yasemin Baba on June 6, 2017, it was claimed that Perihan Mağden had committed an offense that went beyond the limits of criticism. The prosecutor also argued that republishing the same article on the website T24 was a repetition of the same offense. Baba had received the consent of the justice minister, which was necessary for pressing the charge of insulting the President, and requested that the suspects be tried and sentenced.
The first hearing in the case was held on Nov. 2, 2017, after the indictment was accepted by the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. İnan Ketenciler attended the first hearing as a defendant and requested additional time, stating that he wanted to hire a lawyer to defend him in court. The judge asked Ketenciler about his statements during the investigation, and his objection to the petition of a lawyer who wanted to intervene in the case on behalf of President Erdoğan. The court decided to accept the involvement of President Erdoğan’s lawyer in the trial.
At the fourth hearing in the case, held on Nov. 22, 2018, an arrest warrant in absentia was issued for Perihan Mağden, since she did not attend the hearings and did not give any statements to the court. Mağden attended the fifth hearing of the case on Jan. 10, 2019 and presented her defense. She explained that in her article in question, she had focused on Semih Öztürk, who had become the most controversial participant in the highly popular TV show “Survivor Island” due to his unusual behavior. She stated that, in her article, she established similarities between Semih Öztürk and the President, and explained that Öztürk, with his often-criticized behavior, tried to capitalize on the popularity of the President. Mağden underlined that, as a columnist, such criticism was within her rights and was part of her profession. Mağden indicated that her article was not about the President, but about Öztürk, that she had no intention of insulting anyone, and denied the accusations.
In the sixth hearing held on Feb. 21, 2019, Halil Kocabaş, İnan Ketenciler’s lawyer, requested additional time to prepare the defense against the accusations.
Mağden, Ketenciler - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası Download
Mağden, Ketenciler - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (İddianame)
In September 2015, the magazine Nokta was banned and pulled off the shelves for its cover that read “Erdoğan-Style Selfie”. Perihan Mağden, a contributor to the said magazine gave an interview on September 14, 2015 to journalist Tunca İlker Öğreten from the news web site diken.com.tr, stating that “President Erdoğan acts like a wild tiger that has been cornered”.
Due to this metaphor used in the interview, the writer Perihan Mağden, journalist Tunca İlker Ögreten who conducted the interview, and Orhan Şahin and Mehmet Çağlar Tekin executives of the Yurt newspaper which published the interview, were all charged with “insulting the President”.
At the final hearing of the trial held at Istanbul 2. Criminal Court of First Instance on January 10, 2019, Mağden and Öğreten were each fined 7 thousand TL on charges of “insulting the President”. The court did not postpone the fines for Öğreten and Mağden, but acquitted Şahin and Tekin of the charges.
Mağden, Öğreten - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (İddianame)
A curfew was declared when Mazlum Dolan, a reporter with the Dicle News Agency that would later be shuttered after the July 15 coup attempt by a Decree Law dated October 29, 2016, was following a news story in the Sur district of Diyarbakır. For 79 days, Dolan was trapped in an apartment in the district, but continued to report. A military operation was launched with the onset of the curfew, and Dolan announced that he was trapped in a building and that they had taken refuge in the basement due to the ongoing military operation.
In reaction, professional associations of journalists made efforts to evacuate Dolan, however, it was in vain. Dolan’s lawyers applied to the European Court of Human Rights on February 17, 2016, to impose a temporary suspension of the curfew.
On February 19, 2016, journalists including some who participated in the News Watch, wanted to march to the town of Sur for Mazlum Dolan. The rally was stopped by the police. Dolan was evacuated on the evening of the same day along with five civilians, accompanied by military personnel.
After being evacuated from the district, Dolan was taken to Diyarbakır Police Department’s Anti-Terror Branch. He was detained there for five days. Following police procedures, he was referred on February 23 to 1. Criminal Court of Peace, which issued a warrant for the arrest of Dolan and four others.
The grounds for the arrest warrant were denunciations, statements by secret and known witnesses, and gunpowder traces on their clothes -despite the fact that they had just left the district of Sur, which was under heavy bombardment.
The indictment against Dolan and 39 people was drafted by prosecutor Mustakim Türkyılmaz in July 2016, and submitted to the court.
In the indictment, 20 people including journalist Mazlum Dolan were charged with “membership of a terrorist organization”, “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “violating the law on meetings and demonstrations“. A prison sentence of 7.5 to 15 years was requested for Dolan on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”.
“Aggravated life sentence” was requested for 20 other defendants for “attempting to break the unity and integrity of the Turkish state”.
The first 28 pages of the indictment dwelled upon the history and foundation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party / Partiya Karkeren Kürdistan (PKK). This same section provided ample information on the events that transpired under the curfew, when the army launched operations against the ditches and barricades built in Kurdish cities. A separate sub-section focused on the operation in the district of Sur.
Then came information on the investigation process. It was indicated that Dolan and five other civilians were arrested by security forces on February 19, 2016 at about 16.00, on Yıkık Kaya Street.
The information and assessments about journalist Dolan began on page 47 of the indictment. This section provided information on the digital material found in body search as he was being evacuated from the district, as well as on his clothes -including their brands. It was indicated that no element of crime was found in the digital examination of the said material.
The indictment also offered the statements about Dolan of a secret witness code-named “Mudanya 2016”. However, these statements were contradictory, since the secret witness referred to Dolan as “the mother of this girl”, although Dolan is male.
There was no further assessment about Dolan in this part of the indictment. In the “legal assessment” section found on page 104, however, it was stated about Dolan and others that “in the framework of the so-called ‘autonomous administration’, they acted on the orders of the PKK / KCK terrorist organization within its hierarchy and through organic connection with it, aiding and assisting members in armed resistance; providing logistic support to members in armed resistance in the Sur district and the operation area, took part in the organizational hierarchy, and thus committed the crime of ‘membership of a terrorist organization’ as charged.”
The first hearing of the case was held on December 28, 2016. Dolan presented his defense on the first day of the trial. Dolan rejected the charges and said, “In the indictment, another person’s statement is written under my name. I’m a reporter with DİHA. My house is in Sûr. I went there as a journalist. I stayed at my aunt Fatma Ateş’s house. I was sending news stories to the agency that I work for. It was impossible to avoid traces of explosives in the basement where we were trapped. I plead not guilty of the charges. I demand to be released.”
The second hearing of the case was held on May 16, 2017. Dolan and his lawyer Resul Tamur were in attendance.
Following the defendants’ defenses, the statements of secret witnesses were read. The prosecutor in charge requested that Dolan and the other defendants remain in prison.
The court ordered Dolan and eight others to be released on condition of “judicial control”.
The court adjourned the trial until September 17, 2017.
Dolan went abroad some time after he was released. The trial against Dolan continues in his absence.
Mazlum Dolan Üyelik Davası (İddianame)
Various investigations were launched against Mehmet Ali Genç because of the news stories in the newspaper Atılım where he served as managing editor.
All investigations were carried out on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”, citing the stories published in two issues of the newspaper in April and May 2016. Three separate indictments were drafted about Genç, and these were completed and submitted to the court on September 22, 2016.
The first indictment prepared by prosecutor Murat İnam consisted of a single page. It stated that the article titled “Making way for freedom” published in the issue of April 29, 2016 contained “propaganda for a terrorist organization”. However, the content of the article was not included in the indictment.
Prosecutor İnam also stated that the “defendant’s claim that the articles fell within the limits of the freedom of press and thought are not credible.”
The prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years for Genç for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” pursuant to Anti-Terror Law, Article 7/2, as well as deprivation of certain rights as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 53.
The second indictment against Genç was drafted by prosecutor Murat İnam.Prepared on the same date as the first indictment (September 22, 2016), it also consisted of a single page. This second indictment was based on three separate news stories published on May 13, 2016. While the content of the stories was not included in the indictment, the headings were written down: “MLKP militia on patrol in Gazi district”, “Funeral for two TİKKD guerillas”, “HBDH claimed the bomb attack against the bakery shop whose owners killed Ali İsmail.”
Prosecutor İnam claimed that these stories were tantamount to “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and requested that Genç be sentenced. The prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years for Genç for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” pursuant to Anti-Terror Law, Article 7/2, and asked it to be increased by half since the crime was committed via the media. he also requested that Genç be deprivation of certain rights.
The third indictment against Genç was drafted at the end of the investigation against the Özgür Gençlik Dergisi magazine, since he was its managing editor as well. This indictment by Murat İnam consisted of two pages, and like the two other indictments, was completed on September 22, 2016 and submitted to the court.
The indictment based its accusations on ten separate articles in the March - April issue of the magazine: “In memory of two communist women”, “Your identity is ours”, “Portrait: Şengül Boran”, “Suhan’s early farewell”, “Women’s revolution”, “We shall multiply amidst the butterflies you adored so much”, “Rainbow after the rain: Ivana Hoffman”, “Kurdish women continue to resist”, “Colonialism will e trampled, oppressed peoples will prevail” and “From Cerattepe to Cizre, we continue to raise the resistance”.
Prosecutor İnam based himself on these articles and associated images to claim that these “spread propaganda for a terrorist organization” pursuant to Anti-Terror Law, Article 7/2. He requested a sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison and deprivation of certain rights for Genç.
The three indictments prepared by prosecutor Murat İnam were accepted by Istanbul 22. High Criminal Court and a lawsuit was filed. The hearings were held on November 17, 2016 for the three. Fikret Demir (chairman of the panel of judges), Yusuf Kılıç and Barış Cömert (judges) and prosecutor Burhan Temtek took part in all three hearings. In his defense, Genç stated in summary that they did not engage in propaganda for any organization, and that the articles should be viewed within the scope of the freedom of press and expression.
Prosecutor Cömert demanded that Genç be punished as charged in his separate judicial opinions for the three cases.
As regards the first indictment, Genç was sentenced to one year in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”. This was increased by half since the crime was committed through the press, to 1 year, 6 months. Then his sentence was reduced for good conduct to 1 year, 3 months.
Under the scope of the second indictment, he was sentenced to 1 year, 6 years of imprisonment. This was increased by half since the crime was committed through the press, to 1 year, 15 months. Then his sentence was reduced for good conduct to 1 year, 10 months, 15 days.
Under the scope of the third case, the court ruled for a prison sentence of 1 year, 3 months for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
Genç was sentenced to a total of 4 years, 4 months, 15 days in three separate cases on the same day.
The appeal process against the verdict was rejected and the prison sentence was upheld.
Genç is serving time at Adana F-Type High Security Closed Prison.
Mehmet Ali Genç - Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
Mehmet Ali Genç - Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
Mehmet Ali Genç - Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
Van Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against journalist Mehmet Dursun. Dursun was summoned to Van Police Department to testify within the scope of the said investigation. Dursun went to the police on April 3, 2018 and was detained. After three days of detention he was brought to court.
Dursun was interrogated by a judge about phone calls he made in 2014. He was arrested on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” following the interrogation by the judge. He was placed in Van T-Type Closed Prison upon the arrest warrant.
The indictment against him was completed by the public prosecutor Emrah Güngör on August 2, 2018 and submitted to the court.
In the indictment, the assessments and claims about Dursun were on page 17. Prosecutor Güngör made the following remarks based on Dursun’s telephone conversations in 2014:
“The suspect works in our province for Dicle News Agency which spends intense efforts to support the terror group PKK/KCK, has participated in street rallies organized by YDG-H -the youth branch of the said terror group- where security forces have come under attack, and has penned biased, exaggerated news stories which praise the terrorist group and denigrate the efforts of the security forces,
“The suspect has worked as a TV correspondent through phone connections for Sterk tv and Nüce tv which are controlled by PKK/KCK, reported on street rallies ending in clashes organized by BDP in Van, penned biased stories on people taken into detention, and informed and guided BDP leaders as to these detentions.”
In the spirit of similiar statements in other indictments against journalists, prosecutor Güngör claimed after providing this information that Dursun was a member of PKK’s “Press Committee”.
Furthermore, a social media post by Dursun which read “7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Kurdistan”, concerning the earthquake dated November 12, 2017, was also cited as evidence for his crimes.
Afterwards Güngör alleged that Dursun “operated for the terrorist organization PKK under a legal cover in order to break the indivisible unity of the Turkish Republic” and requested that he be sentenced. He demanded that Dursun be sentenced to five to ten years of imprisonment on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” pursuant to Article 314/2 of Turkish Penal Code, and that this penalty be further aggravated by half. At the same time, he requested that Dursun be deprived of certain rights as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 53.
Prosecutor Güngör’s indictment was accepted by Van 4. High Criminal Court and a lawsuit was filed.
The first hearing of the trial was held on December 5, 2018. Dursun was brought from Van T-Type Closed Prison where he was held, to the courtroom. Dursun’s lawyer Erhan Çiftçiler was also in attendance. Kerem Kırtay (chairman of the panel of judges), Şahin İş and Meral Parlar (judges) and Mustafa Özyurt (prosecutor) took their places.
During his defense at the trial, Dursun said that he worked as a registered correspondent at Dicle News Agency between 2013 and 2015, and that the phone calls he made during this period for journalistic purposes were presented as criminal in the indictment. Indicating that he followed the street rallies in question for journalistic purposes, Dursun continued as follows:
“The indictment tries to make it appear as if I participated in these rallies. The water cannon trucks (TOMA) present at the scene have cameras. They took footage. If this footage is examined, it will be seen that I was there only for news coverage.
“I did not pen any biased news stories, or any story to praise the organization. I didn’t report anything that would defame security forces or any other institution. My job as a correspondent with Dicle news agency is to inform the clients who phone me. STERK tv and NÜCE tv are the clients of our agency, and they called me in that capacity. I gave them information about the events.
“I worked as a journalist. I have nothing to do with KCK. The prosecutor tries to portray me as a member of a press committee in order to present my journalistic activity as illegal. I reject the accusation. I can’t even begin to understand why the indictment covers my Facebook post on the earthquake which hit the city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq. According to the Iraqi constitution, this area is called Kurdistan Regional Government. This has no relation with Turkey.”
Attorney Erhan Çiftçiler stated the following during defense: “My client is engaged in journalism. He took no other kind of action. He cannot be portrayed as a member of KCK. My client was present in street rallies for news coverage purposes. He did not contact guerilla fighters on the mountains. His talks with his girlfriend are included in the indictment, and yet these have no relation to the organization in question. His phone calls were solely for purposes of news coverage. It is obvious that they were not intended to guide a mass of people.”
At the end of the hearing, the panel of judges ruled for the release of Dursun, taking into account the status of the evidence and the time he had already spent in prison. The second hearing of the case took place on May 15, 2019. Kerem Kırtay (chairman of the panel of judges), Şahin İş and Şerife Bağdat Oğuz (judges) and Mustafa Özyurt took part in the hearing.
Dursun didn’t attend the hearing.
The trial was adjourned until October 25, 2019.
Mehmet Dursun Üyelik Davası (İddianame)
Mehmet Güleş, the Elazığ correspondent of the shuttered news agency DİHA, was detained on December 6, 2016 during an identity check at Elazığ Courthouse, where he went for news coverage. A day later, he was referred to the court, was arrested for “membership of a terrorist organization”, and taken to Elazığ E-Type Closed Prison.
The indictment cited as evidence against Güleş 35 phone calls for journalistic purposes and television reporting, as well as 20 posts on his social media accounts. He was charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The first hearing of the trial was held on April 3, 2017.
At the hearing dated May 3, 2017, Güleş was sentenced to 9 years, 4 months, 15 days of imprisonment for “membership of a terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
An appeal was filed against the verdict at the appeal court, and then at the Court of Cassation. On October 16, 2018, 16. Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation upheld the verdict about Güleş. Since then, Güleş is held in Elazığ Closed Prison No. 1 since December 7, 2016.
His individual application to the Constitutional Court has not yet been processed.
Mehmet Güleş Üyelik ve Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
Mehmet Güleş Üyelik ve Propaganda Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)
Mehmet Gündem was taken into custody as part of the investigation against Foundation of Journalists and Writers, together with 45 other individuals including Nuh Gönültaş, a contributor to the Bugün and Zaman newspaper, on charges of links to “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY)”.
İstanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued an arrest warrant for 111 individuals in 16 Turkish provinces as part of this investigation into Crimes Against the Constitutional Order.
The ground for the investigation was Fethullah Gülen’s role as the Honorary Chairman of the Foundation of Journalists and Writers.
The police procedures for Gündem and other defendants were completed on November 9, 2017 and they were brought to the courthouse. After the interrogation at the prosecutor’s office, he was referred to the court with a request for his arrest on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” and “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization”. Anadolu Criminal Court of Peace on Duty ordered the arrest of Gündem and four other individuals including journalists Behram Kılıç and Nuh Gönültaş on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”. Gündem was placed in Silivri Closed Prison No. 9.
The indictment against him was completed in June 2018. In the indictment, the prosecutor requested Gündem be sentenced to 7.5 to 15 years in prison.
The first hearing of the case was held at Istanbul 35. High Criminal Court on August 14, 2018. Before the hearing on May 7, 2019, the prosecutor submitted his opinion as to the accusations. At the hearing on July 9, 2017, the court sentenced Mehmet Gündem to 6 years, 10 months, 15 days of imprisonment, on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”.
An investigation was launched against journalist Meryem Yıldırım for her two social media posts in 2017. Yıldırım went to the police and gave her statement on March 20, 2019. During the interrogation Yıldırım was asked about her post dated March 30, 2017, which read “It has been 2 years… 24-year-old law student Şafak put his life at stake demanding justice for #BerkinElvan …#ŞafakYayla” and her post dated May 6, 2017 which read “Presenting an 18-year-old youth who went on hunger strike for #BerkinElvan as the top leader of DHKPC and legitimizing her murder… #SılaAbalay”.
In her interrogation under the investigation, Yıldırım stated that she did not remember the purpose of her posts as two years had passed by, and indicated that they were probably for journalistic purposes as she is a reporter. She also said that she did not know whether Şafak Yayla and Sıla Abalay were members of a terrorist organization or not.
At the end of the investigation, prosecutor Hafize Demir Hamurcu of İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Bureau completed the indictment.
The 3-page indictment completed on March 27, 2019 charged Yıldırım with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The indictment cited as evidence Yıldırım’s social media post dated March 30, 2017, which read “It has been 2 years… 24-year-old law student Şafak put his life at stake demanding justice for #BerkinElvan …#ŞafakYayla” and her post dated May 6, 2017 which read “Presenting an 18-year-old youth who went on hunger strike for #BerkinElvan as the top leader of DHKPC and legitimizing her murder… #SılaAbalay”.
Prosecutor Savcı Hamurcu indicated in the indictment that Şafak Yayla and Sıla Abalay mentioned in these posts were members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party - Front (DHKP-C).
(Şafak Yayla was killed during an armed clash when on March 31, 2015 İstanbul Courthouse’s Chief Public Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was taken
hostage in his office and then killed. Sıla Abalay was killed during a clash with the police in Istanbul on December 7, 2016.)
The indictment was accepted by 37. High Criminal Court. The first hearing of the trial was scheduled for June 20, 2019. Yıldırım and her lawyer Şerif Özgür Urfa were in attendance. Hakan Özer (chairman of the panel of judges), Onur Engin Deniz and Merve Akyüz (judges) and prosecutor Hasan Adalı took part in the hearing. After the reading of the indictment, journalist Meryem Yıldırım stated the following in her defense:
“Two years have passed since I shared these posts. I don’t even remember posting them. They do not constitute a crime. They fall under the scope of the freedom of press and expression. I demand to be acquitted. If I am to be sentenced, I request a deferment of the announcement of the verdict.”
Şerif Özgür Urfa, Yıldırım’s lawyer, presented a written defense to the court. Urfa supported his client’s statements, and indicated that the said posts cannot be considered as propaganda.
The prosecutor Hasan Adalı, presenting his opinion as to accusations at the hearing, stated that the said posts did not fall within the scope of the freedom of thought and expression, since they served to legitimize the actions of DHKP-C and spread continuous propaganda. Prosecutor requested that Meryem Yıldıırm be sentenced.
After the prosecutor’s opinion as to accusations, Yıldırım said her final words: “I demand my acquittal. I have never approved of violent acts, and will never do so.”
The panel of judges announced their verdict, sentencing Meryem Yıldırım to 1 year, 3 months in prison for “spreading propaganda for DHKP-C”. In addition, since the crime was committed through the press, the sentence was aggravated by half, to 1 year, 10 months. The court further increased the sentence to 1 year, 16 months, 3 days since the crime was committed more than once. There were no reductions in the sentence.
Yıldırım’s lawyers applied to the appeal court against the prison sentence. The appeal process is still under way.
Meşale Tolu was detained on April 30, 2017 in a police raid on her house. On May 5, she was referred to the public prosecutor’s office. She was ordered to be arrested by Istanbul 9. Criminal Court of Peace on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”, and placed in Bakırköy Closed Prison.
Prosecutor Kenan Zurnacı completed the indictment with 18 defendants on July 7, 2017, and claimed based upon a secret witness statement from 2015 that Tolu had participated in commemorations for Şirin Öter, Yeliz Erbay and Ivana Hoffmann in 2014 as well as anti-corruption rallies by the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP). This case was then expanded to include other defendants accused of membership to the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), with the total number of defendants reaching 26.
The prosecutor requested sentences as per Turkish Penal Code 314/2 (membership of a terrorist organization), 63/1 (restricting freedoms), 54/1 (confiscation of goods), 58/9 (repeated offense), 53/1 (deprivation of certain rights).
Meşale Tolu was released at the second hearing on December 18, 2017, on condition of judicial control and a ban on going abroad.
After her release, police officers from the Anti-Terror Branch (TEM) tried to take Meşale Tolu a police station and deport her. The ban on Tolu’s going abroad was lifted in August 2018. A German citizen of Turkish origin, Tolu returned to Germany.
Meşale Tolu - ETHA Davası (İddianame)
Mümtazer Türköne is standing trial for his column dated March 16, 2014 in the now shuttered Zaman newspaper, which was titled “Would it be this bad it were not obligatory”, on charges of “insult via audiovisual or written message” (Turkish Penal Code, Article 125).
In his article, Türköne dwelled upon a speech by the then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Antep. In his speech, Erdoğan had accused Berkin Elvan of being a “terrorist”: On June 16, 2013 Elvan was injured by a pepper gas canister fired by police on his way to buy bread, and passed away on March 11, 2014, after spending 269 days in coma. During the same speech, Erdoğan had also incited the crowd to boo Gülsüm Elvan, Berkin’s mother.
After the publication of the column, Erdoğan filed a complaint against Türköne. However, the prosecutor announced a decision of non-prosecution and did not file a lawsuit. Erdoğan’s lawyers appealed against this decision. Bakırköy 2. Criminal Court of Peace discussed the objection and overturned the decision of non-prosecution on October 14, 2014 on the grounds that “there is evidence pointing to crime and it is a court which should pass judgement on the evidence”.
Upon this decision, Prosecutor Mustafa Gökay completed an indictment on November 3, 2014 and requested that Mümtazer Türköne be sentenced to imprisonment of 1 to 2 years for “insulting a public official”. The case began on April 28, 2015.
At the hearing held on January 12, 2016, judge Aşkın Kocamanoğlu dropped the case against the defendant Mümtazer Türköne on the grounds that the lawsuit for “insulting a public official through the press” had not been filed within the 2-month legal deadline. The judge also ruled that it was not the defendant who had published the column on the newspaper website, and acquitted Türköne.
However, Court of Cassation’s 18. Criminal Chamber overturned the verdict of acquittal, and the trial resumed. The 5. hearing was held on September 11, 2019. Türköne was connected to the hearing from Silivri Prison, via the judiciary videoconferencing system SEGBİS. He indicated that he had penned the article 5 years ago, and asked for time to examine the file and the article he had written back then. The 6. hearing took place on October 15, 2019.
Mümtazer Türköne - Erdoğan'a Hakaret (İddianame)
Oktay and Uğur Akgül, reporters for the Dicle News Agency, which would later be closed down with a Decree Law, were covering the curfew in the Nusaybin district of Mardin. While the military operation continued in the district, Oktay and Akgül’s house in Çatalözü neighborhood was raided by special operations squads. After the house search, the two journalists were detained.
It was claimed that Meltem Oktay and Uğur Akgül exposed sensitive information about the ongoing military operations. Oktay was arrested on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”. Uğur Akgül was released, pending trial on charges of ”spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization“.
The evidence in the indictment consisted of 9 witness statements, including some by secret witnesses, as well as social media posts.
The first hearing of the trial was held on June 24, 2016. Meltem Oktay was released at the second hearing on August 18, 2016.
The final hearing took place on November 8, 2016. Oktay was acquitted from charges of ”membership of a terrorist organization”. However, Oktay was sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment on account of her Tweets. Uğur Akgül was sentenced to 2 years, 6 months in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization“.
The verdict was upheld by the court of appeal in January 2017. Oktay was detained again on April 20, 2017 in Edirne following this ruling of the court of appeal. Akgül was arrested on August 8, 2018.
The 1. Judiciary Reform Package, which came into force on October 24, 2019 made it possible to appeal to prison sentences of less than 5 years as well, and as a result, Akgül was released from Mardin E-Type Closed Prison and Oktay from Gebze Women’s Closed Prison on October 25, 2019.
Meltem Oktay, Uğur Akgül - DİHA Davası (İddianame)
Meltem Oktay, Uğur Akgül - DİHA Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)